There was a vote on police funding in parliament on 7 February. After the vote, the Conservative Party posted the following claim on its Twitter feed:
Today we made sure UK counter-terrorism policing received an extra £50 million from a £450 million increase in police funding.
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What did Labour do today? Voted against it. pic.twitter.com/G4hFKnxvmT
— Conservatives (@Conservatives) February 7, 2018
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But this tweet is nothing more than a masterclass in spin. Because the Labour Party had reasons for opposing the funding package. Reasons that make the issue much less cut and dried than the Conservatives would have you believe.
As the tweet suggests, the government proposed a package for the police which it claims provides a £450m increase in funding. Parliament debated and voted on the package on 7 February. All opposition parties, including Labour, voted against it. But the proposals passed because all the Conservatives (except one) and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs voted for it.
The Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, spoke about the proposals at the debate. According to parliamentary record Hansard, he said:
This [funding] will mean that, in 2018-19, we will be investing over £1 billion more in policing than we did in 2015-16… I think that that is a significant statement of the priority that this Government attach to public safety.
Loadsa whose money?
But Shadow Home Office Minister for Policing Louise Haigh cited figures of her own at the debate. She said that real-terms funding from the government to local police forces has fallen by £400m since 2015.
Furthermore, Haigh claimed that the proposal meant “an eighth consecutive year of real-terms cuts in Home Office funding” for the police. And she said the plan would push “the burden [for funding] on to hard-pressed local taxpayers” as the new grant will see the police forced to increase the amount of funding it gets from council tax. This will contribute to the dramatic rise in council tax expected in April.
The shadow minister also said that the plan:
fails to meet the needs identified by police chiefs, first and foremost in the area of counter-terrorism but also in local policing.
A leaked document [paywall] from the National Police Chiefs’ Council recently revealed that counter-terrorism police requested £104m in funding. The government has only awarded it around half that amount.
Today we've heard from across the country the impact of vast police cuts since 2010. Communities are being put at risk – yet Government persists with £100m real terms cut. pic.twitter.com/z0fpLCIQhc
— Louise Haigh MP (@LouHaigh) February 7, 2018
Pull the other one
It was always going to be a stretch for the Conservatives to pull this particular trick off on the British public. The party has been arguing that Labour would rather burn money than save it for years now. So most people would suspect that Labour must have a damn good reason for voting down the package. And as it turns out, Labour has lots of them.
Well done to the Conservative Party’s Twitter HQ for helping to point that out.
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